taking the words of Jesus seriously

Editor’s Note: Read this call to action by local clergy in Charlottesville, VA, inviting faith communities around the country to join them in rejecting the evil ideology of white nationalism. Prayerfully consider signing on to this letter in support of a national call to conscience against white supremacy.

Dear friends in faith across the United States,

Will you commit to counteract the narrative and agenda of white supremacy? In the aftermath of multiple deaths, we bear witness to the need for every American to understand that the isolation and divisiveness of white supremacy is the way of death for all people, and particularly for the most marginalized among us.

Therefore, we call on you to embody love over fear by proclaiming these truths, which are in stark contrast to the evil ideology of white supremacy:

Black Lives Matter
Queer Lives Matter
Indigenous Lives Matter
Differently Abled Lives Matter
Refugee Lives Matter
Jewish Lives Matter
Trans Lives Matter
Muslim Lives Matter
Latino/Hispanic Lives Matter
Immigrant Lives Matter

As members of Congregate Charlottesville’s clergy we thank you for your many demonstrations of love and solidarity since white supremacists and neo-Nazis attacked our city. As we said to the violent hate-mongers who pushed us to the ground and cursed us outside Emancipation Park, “Love has already won.”

We know by faith that love wins, even when we cannot see it, and we have committed ourselves to trust love over fear.

The nation’s response to events here in Charlottesville makes clear that we need moral leadership in every community. As followers of God we call all people to admit that white supremacy is a structure of evil, injustice, and oppression. We as people of faith must engage in the long, deep work of dismantling white supremacy in all of its forms. We must confront and counteract white supremacy within ourselves, within our communities, and within legal, political and religious systems.

White supremacy is a systemic sin that is not unique to Charlottesville or to the South. It is woven into the DNA of the United States. We call upon you to partner with us in the holy task of renouncing and confronting white supremacy and dismantling the white nationalist agenda in your own community. Together, with God, we can restore God’s vision of a world where all are welcomed and affirmed in their full humanity.

Let us be clear that we will not allow our leaders to condemn hate while they continue to condone the policies and practices of white nationalism. Opposing white supremacy is not a partisan issue. All people of faith and conscience must commit to the deep work of justice.

All elected leaders at local, state, and national levels have the power and moral obligation to enact policies which uplift, protect, and provide for the most marginalized in our society.

As an act of choosing love over fear we call upon all people, especially our faith and public leaders to:

  • Choose to stop racist voter suppression and gerrymandering by fully reinstating the Voting Rights Act.
  • Choose to oppose the RAISE Act, defend DACA, and refuse funding for a border wall.
  • Choose to work for comprehensive criminal justice reform and reject the “law and order” culture which has cast black and brown people as the enemy of America.
  • Choose to condemn political rhetoric and policies that target the LGBTQ, Jewish, Immigrant, and Islamic communities.
  • Choose to support access to health care, affordable housing, jobs, and equal access to goods and services for all people.

Signed in solidarity,

Brittany Caine-Conley, Congregate C’Ville Lead Organizer, Charlottesville
Rev. Seth Wispelwey, Directing Minister of Restoration Village Arts, Charlottesville
Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin, Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville
Rev. Elaine Ellis Thomas, St. Paul’s Memorial Church, Charlottesville
Rev. Dr. Brenda Brown-Grooms, New Beginnings Christian Community, Charlottesville
Rev. Liz Forney, First Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville
Deacon Don Gathers, First Baptist Church, Charlottesville
Rev. Phil Woodson, First United Methodist Church, Charlottesville
Rev. Robert Lewis, Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church, Charlottesville
Rev. Dr. Jeanita W. Richardson, Charlottesville
Rev. Tracy Howe Wispelwey, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ, Charlottesville
Ann Marie Smith, Grace Church Red Hill and New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care-Charlottesville
Rev. Diana Brawley, Counseling Ministry of Charlottesville
Rev. Dr. Jan Rivero, Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, Charlottesville
Sharon Beckman-Brindley, Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville
Adam Slate, President, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church-Unitarian Universalist, Charlottesville
Rev. Dr. Harry Kennon, First United Methodist Church, Charlottesville
Sheikha Latifa Till, Sufi Ruhaniat International, Charlottesville
Rev. Dr. Michael Cheuk, Charlottesville
Elizabeth Shillue, Charlottesville Friends Meeting

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